Eczema is a medical skin condition affecting millions of adults and children across the globe. Its main symptoms include rough, inflamed, and itchy patches of skin occurring in various places including but not limited to the hands, feet and face. The exact causation of the condition is unknown, but eczema can generally be classed as an overactive bodily response to some type of stimulus or trigger.
As there has yet to be an identified cure for eczema and its various types, there are a few treatments that provide some relief for symptoms.
Emollients, or medically recommended moisturisers, are a key treatment used for managing eczema by keeping vulnerable skin supple and soft. These moisturisers are not standard cosmetic moisturisers that can be found at every drug store or pharmacy, but are prescribed creams, lotions, and ointments depending on skin type and case severity.
Creams are the lightest type of emollients, made up of a combination of fat, water and preservatives that many individuals prefer to use in the daytime for their lightweight coverage and feel. Lotions contain more water and are less effective but used more regularly for areas of the skin that have a high hair density. Last but not least, ointments are used for very affected areas and tend to be greasier and thicker, as they do not contain preservatives. When used daily, emollients have been proven to keep more mild cases of eczema under control.
In more severe cases, stronger medical attention in the form of steroids is needed to calm eczema inflammation and flare-ups. Steroids, also known as topical steroids or topical corticosteroids, are prescribed to reduce redness and irritation, as well as inflammation of affected areas.
Generally, steroids are given for short periods of time, so that patients do not build up a tolerance to them and render them an ineffective treatment method. In some cases, steroids are prescribed proactively to areas where flare-ups happen often in order to prevent a repetitive cycle. When used as doctor recommended, this form of treatment is very successful in preventing flare-ups.
Antihistamines are medicines generally used to treat allergies such as hay fever and hives but can be used to relieve itchy symptoms that come with eczema flare-ups.
There are two main types of antihistamines, namely 1st generation and 2nd generation. While 1st generation antihistamines (such as Benadryl) have a drowsy side-effect, they are more effective than 2nd generation variants as they promote sleep and skin healing. Antihistamines are not guaranteed to work in all cases but used in conjunction with other treatments can be a very effective treatment method for adults and children.
Eczema doesn’t always require medical attention, and adopting skin protecting behaviours in the home can go a long way in preventing flare-ups and worsening the existing condition. Easy lifestyle changes include only bathing in warm water instead of hot, as it dries out and irritates skin.
While bathing, avoid using body scrubs or loofahs, as they can have the same irritating effect.
When getting dressed, choose cotton clothing that fits comfortably and is washed in fragrance-free laundry soap. Lastly, avoid any triggers you are already aware of, whether its food, allergen, or stress related.
While the causation and cure to the condition remaining at large, these treatments used individually or in some cases in unison aid to help individuals that suffer with eczema. As it generally affects individuals that are predisposition to allergies and asthma, eczema will continue to affect a vast majority of people across the UK and world. Nevertheless, the search for a cure continues and treatments and tips will help to mitigate symptoms and prevent eczema flare-ups.
You can learn more about eczema over in our skin care hub.